UN launches Elsie Initiative Fund for more meaningful participation of women in peace operations

28 Mar 2019
UN launches Elsie Initiative Fund for more meaningful participation of women in peace operations

New York - In the lead up to the 2019 Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference, UN Women, alongside the UN Executive Office of the Secretary-General, the UN Department of Peace Operations and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office, formally announced the launch of the Elsie Initiative Fund, an important partnership of Member States with UN entities that will help accelerate progress towards achieving the targets to increase the proportion of women serving in uniformed military and police roles.

In November 2017, at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial held in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, an innovative and multilateral pilot project to develop, apply and test approaches to help overcome barriers to increasing women’s meaningful participation in peace operations. Today, at the UN headquarters in New York, the Elsie Initiative Fund was officially unveiled. Canada is providing an initial contribution of $15 million toward the Fund. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Finland announced additional contributions.

Trailblazer of gender equality in peace operations

This multi partner trust fund, named after the Canadian women’s right pioneer Elsie MacGill, has been designed to become a trailblazer for the achievement of the UN Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy (2018-2028). Since 2015, the overall rate of women in United Nations peace operations has only increased from 4.4% to 5%. At the current pace, it will take decades to reach the levels outlined in Security Council resolution 2242.

The Elsie Fund is not a fund simply collecting contributions for gender parity in peacekeeping, but a smartly designed financial instrument intentionally focusing investments to remove gender barriers and bottlenecks and to create incentives to accelerate positive change and results for peace outcomes.

Performance based financing and flexible funding

As highlighted by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director,  the funds “will help to boost the number of women participating in decisions and actions relating to their own security, and that of their communities, and ensure that women’s unique perspective is included, whether they are in the field or at the peace table.”

The Fund’s Secretariat will be hosted by UN Women, while the UN MPTF Office will serve as trustee of this innovative pooled fund that will provide flexible project funding and financial incentives for countries contributing troops and police personnel to peace operations.

A particular innovative element of the Fund are the premiums for gender-strong units. These are peace units with substantial representation of women overall and in positions of authority, that have provided gender training to all unit members and have adequate equipment and infrastructures to ensure parity of deployment conditions for women and men peacekeepers.

Meaningful participation

“The imperative to include more women in peacekeeping is self-evident and stands on its own merit”, emphasized Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under Secretary General for the UN Department of Peace Operations, “women have the right to serve, in an environment that enables their meaningful participation.  From a practical standpoint, more women in peacekeeping at all levels and in key positions means more effective peacekeeping “

In the words of Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, “greater participation by women in the peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes will change the dynamics of these missions and pave the way for a more enduring peace”.

For more info on the Elsie Initiative Fund click here.

* In the picture above: From right to left, Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Jennifer Topping, UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office Executive Director, Wing Commander Theodora Adjoa Agornyo, female peacekeeper and Lt. Col Bradley Orchard, UN Women. Photo: Global Affairs Canada


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